Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will make the transition from the FCS to the FBS and join the Sun Belt Conference in 2015, sources told ESPN.
The two schools will be ineligible for the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs in 2013. After completing their transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), they will be eligible for the Sun Belt football championship and bowl games in 2015, sources said.
An official announcement is expected this week, and both schools will be full-fledged Sun Belt members in all other sports in 2014, sources said.
The addition of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will give the Sun Belt 10 football members in 2015 — Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Western Kentucky.
The Sun Belt will have a 12-member basketball league with those 10 schools plus Arkansas-Little Rock and Texas-Arlington.
Since North Texas, Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee announced they were leaving for Conference USA, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern have been targeted by the Sun Belt.
Two weeks ago at the Sun Belt men’s basketball tournament, league commissioner Karl Benson said the majority of schools the Sun Belt was considering for expansion were in the FCS level.
“We want to create two geographic divisions and make sure there’s at least 10 football schools while considering the option of 12,” Benson said on March 9. “We also want to make sure that the schools in our league make sense geographically and are regionally aligned.”
Benson also indicated that his league could consider former WAC schools New Mexico State and Idaho as football-only members.
“They are in need of a conference and are being assessed,” Benson said on March 9. “We are looking specifically for schools that will add stability and value. We also are exploring the possibility of football-only members, and it’s not just limited to NMSU and Idaho.
“We have created a lot of maps with different possibilities that would fit many of our needs including geography.”